First some good news: since my last post on raising funds for the Space Studies Program I’ve received the funding I needed to cover the course fees. I have also raised £140 through my crowdfunding effort; thankyou for your donations! I had been getting anxious last week that it might not come through in time but my Dad has loaned me enough money to cover me until the last payment (a cheque) into my bank account clears, so I no longer have to worry. I can finally start getting excited! I still need to cover flights and other expenses, and unfortunately the exchange rate has dropped, putting more pressure on my finances. I’m therefore still looking for donations to my crowdfunding appeal, but I don’t need as much as I originally thought now that the course fees are paid.
What I want to do next is to start earning my own money so I’m no longer so dependent on benefits or the generosity of others. It occurred to me the other day that If I can bring several thousand pounds into my bank account just from other people’s generosity (albeit for a specific purpose), what could I bring in if I actually worked for it? Having earned a place at ISU has made me realise that I’m more capable than I previously thought, and if I can do that, and find funding to cover the fees so quickly, then I can find a solution to this problem too.
My first priority is to get myself off of Universal Credit. The Jobcentre has been understanding of my personal difficulties but has insisted that I have to divide my efforts between my grad job hunt and looking for temporary work. This has left me struggling to put enough time into both job searches. By earning my own money I will not only have more financial freedom, I’ll be able to get the Jobcentre off my back completely and I’ll be free to look for other work as I see fit. Financial problems we’re one of my main worries while at university and continue to be a worry for me now, restricting what I can do. There are many things I wanted to do while at university, and want to do now, that lack of money is preventing me from doing. In the long run, one of my goals for my time at ISU is to secure my future so I don’t end up in this position again.
I’ve set myself a goal of earning £500 in the next month. That’s a small, easy figure, but it’s enough to get me started and off of universal credit. In the long term I still want to find a job in the space industry—a typical grad job for an aerospace engineer pays at least £2,000 a month before taxes and other deductions—but for now it will make a good start. I’m looking at a more entrepreneurial approach, perhaps as a freelance engineer?
I’m looking for advice on how to do this. There might turn out to be plenty of opportunities in the Bridgwater area; I’m also open to opportunities within the surfing community, or perhaps within skydiving. But I’m most keen on finding a way to do this within tech industries, particularly the space industry if possible; I spent several good years earning my degree and it deserves to be put to good use. I can usually think up plenty of ideas for things to do—my mind ends up buzzing with ideas sometimes—but I feel like I need some pointers on what is genuinely worth doing. My current circumstances are keeping me disconnected from the space industry, so I don’t know what issues and problems the industry is currently facing, nor can I see what opportunities there are waiting for me to contribute to.
I’ve left it a bit too long following my last post on my search for funding for my attendance at ISU. But I’ve got good news: I’ve secured most of the funding I need! I now need only to secure a small further amount to cover what’s left of the fees, plane tickets and associated expenses, and generally keep me afloat while I’m there. To find this I’ve just set up a GoFundMe donation campaign, with a goal of just £750 to cover all these three things. That’s small compared to some of the campaigns I’ve seen, and I’m hopeful that I should be able to raise it fairly quickly.
The total breaks down as follows: the first £250 is to cover what’s left of the course fees, based on recent exchange rates. The flights there and back from Bristol Airport come to about £170-£180 plus booking fees. Finally, although accommodation and meals are provided, I need to cover some regular costs like car insurance to make sure I don’t go over my overdraft limit (even though I won’t be using my car there), as I’m already a long way into my overdraft and the benefits I’m on at the moment won’t be available while I’m on the course.
I’m normally reluctant to ask for financial help like this unless I’m really desperate, but I’ve decided to do so this time as it’s a small amount and it’s apparent that there is some willingness to help. The support I’ve received so far has opened my eyes to the possibility that some of my beliefs about money might not be accurate and this is something I’m keen to explore further: being accepted into ISU shows I’m more capable than I previously thought, and if I can raise this much this quickly then there may be other opportunities that I have been missing out on, particularly if I apply my talents to them.
I’m keen to get some feedback on my campaign, particularly if there’s something I could improve or if I’m making a rookie error. This is my first attempt at something like this and there’s probably much that I have to learn. I’ll be posting updates from time to time to promote my campaign and provide updates on my progress and I’ll try to put a widget here on my blog to show the latest total (unfortunately GoFundMe widgets don’t play nice with WordPress).
Money has been a source of anxiety for me for a long time now, and has prevented me from doing many of the things I wanted to do with my life. Now I’ve got something to look forward to—something big—and I’ve almost got enough together to go. Hopefully this is just the beginning and I’ll be able to use what I learn there, and the connections I make, to start making my own contribution to the world.
On Friday I got some important news: I have been accepted onto the International Space University’s Space Studies Programme. This is a prestigious and highly sought-after opportunity and I’m excited to be given the opportunity to go. SSP is a two-month long, multidisciplinary, graduate-level professional development program with a highly multinational community of students, alumni and staff. It is also a unique opportunity to network with the best and the brightest of the global space industry. As I explained in my last blog post, I have been keenly looking for a way to re-connect with the space industry and I can’t think of a better way to do so than this.
There are a few obstacles I need to overcome first though: most importantly, I’ve been offered a European Space Agency scholarship covering most of the cost of attending and my Dad has offered to chip in, but I still need to find €5,000 to cover the fees (about GB£4,250 at current exchange rates). My family background is not one with much surplus income and I’m uncertain if they will be able to help further, so I need to find that from elsewhere. Unfortunately, the difficulties I’ve been having since graduation mean that there’s little I can contribute personally. I’m unsure of the deadline for this but the course starts on 24th June so I doubt I have long.
I therefore need some advice. Where can I go to find grants or loans that might help to close this gap? I don’t expect to get it all in one go, but any contribution would be very welcome. If there’s anything I can do in return I’m interested; I have my blog as an example of my writing ability, and I had wanted to resume writing it, if only I had something to blog about. This is exactly that something, and thanks to my background with Aspergers I can take a unique angle on it.
In the long run I want to be able to stand on my own two feet financially but for this opportunity I need to act fast. As someone with Asperger syndrome, having been given very low expectations of what I would go on to achieve, getting accepted into ISU is an extraordinary achievement. It has dispelled a lot of the self-doubt that has been creeping in over recent months and I’m starting to realise that I’ve got capabilities that shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste. ESA is also prepared to bet big on me. This alone is already something to be proud of but it would be a shame to have to miss out on it because of financial problems.